Los Angeles Lakers 'All But Assured' To Get Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Or Kemba Walker Next Year
on Jul 12, 2018 09:14 PM EDT
The Los Angeles Lakers may not get another big-name free agent this summer, but they are in a great position of landing another superstar to play alongside LeBron James in 2019.
According to David Aldridge of TNT, with James on the ground in Los Angeles, the Lakers are assured of getting one of the superstars who will become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Among the elite players who are expected to hit the free-agent market are Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Kemba Walker. Also, Aldridge says the Lakers could also make a run for "someone else who shakes free or is otherwise available."
Veterans To Help James Guide Young Lakers
After James signed a four-year deal worth $153.3 million with the Lakers, they also signed several veterans who will help the former Cleveland Cavaliers superstar mentor young players such as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers signed defensive-minded guard Lance Stephenson, veteran playmaker Rajon Rondo, and center JaVale McGee, who won two championship rings with the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers also re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal.
"In the interim, James will be surrounded by tough-minded, veteran, defense-centric players who'll create turnovers and allow LeBron to take a break at that end of the court — where his effectiveness has dropped off significantly the last couple of seasons," Aldridge says.
Aldridge added that James, along with the other veterans, will help the Lakers young guns advance their learning curves. While the Lakers are not contenders yet for spot in the Western Conference finals, Aldridge believes that this will be the start of their rise to the top, adding that this will be a two- to three-year process.
With James on board, the Lakers will try to end their five-year playoff drought. In the past three seasons, the Lakers have steadily improved their record, going from 17-65 in 2015-16 to 26-56 in 2016-17. Last season, they finished with a 35-47 record after drafting Ball and Kuzma in the first round.
Lakers Also Eyeing Leonard Via Trade
The Lakers are also trying to acquire Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs via trade. However, Lakers insider Larry Coon told Spectrum SportsNet in an interview that the Spurs want almost all the Lakers' core from last season.
Coon said the Spurs are eyeing Ingram, Kuzma, Josh Hart, and two first-round picks and two pick swaps for Leonard. Coon added that the Lakers don't want to let go of Kuzma, who emerged as a legitimate scorer for them last season.
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